Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Is Anyone Hearing Your Joy?

 Photo via Flickr from Illustriousoul
These last few weeks have been full of joy for me.  I shared some of the good news with my followers a few days ago (check out that post by clicking here).  But more than just that, right now I am going through a very refreshing season in my walk with God.

I ran across this verse recently, and its impact in my life is overwhelming.  Nehemiah 12:23 states, "Many sacrifices were offered on that joyous day, for God had given the people cause for great joy. The women and children also participated in the celebration, and the joy of the people of Jerusalem could be heard far away."

Joy, according to, is referred to as "The emotion of great delight, or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation."  That's a rather strong definition for just a small, three letter word.  

There are at least 35 verses in the book of Psalms alone that combine the words "joy" and "Lord."  God has graciously granted to each of us blessings which we don't deserve, but which we are grateful to receive.  For many of us, it's easy to see His gifts and guidance in our lives. But for some, the focus is in other areas, and therefore they do not experience their joy.

The purpose of this post, however, is not in helping you find your joy.  It's easy to find if you spend any amount of time searching for it.

The purpose, rather, is for me to ask you this - Who have you shared your joy with today?  Can people see your joy radiating from your countenance?  Can your joy be "heard far away?"  I know I'm convicted by the fact my actions and my face don't always reflect all that He has done for me.  Time to start working on that...

Psalm 126:3 - Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us!  What joy!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Reflections On An Amazing Sunday - 3/27/11

L to R - Pastors Andy Rowe, Bruce Crews, and Keith Hall
Sunday, March 27, 2011 was another milestone in the church where I serve, The Journey Church, in High Point, NC.  Our body had the marvelous privilege of ordaining our Worship Pastor Andy Rowe. This is now the third pastor ordained by the leaders of The Journey Church and its body in the last four years. Andy and his wonderful bride Tracie were surrounded by family and friends from near and far for this special occasion. Andy's father Harvey led us in singing praises to our Father, which made the day even more special. Our Lead Pastor Keith Hall charged Andy in what this step means in his life, while I charged Tracie and the rest of their family.

We also had an evening service, and we three pastors were able to baptize 11 believers!  We baptize at a local health club that closes at 6pm on Sunday evenings, and then generously allows us to use their indoor swimming pool for this service.  Their ventilation system wasn't working, so as we walked into the pool area, there was a hazy fog floating off of the water.  With three ladies leading us in song a cappella, it totally reminded me of the baptism scene from the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou. What a surreal time!

As we were wrapping up the baptisms, Pastor Andy leaned over to me and said, "What a first day!"  I am so excited about what God has in store for the Journey Church, its body, and its leaders.

Friday, March 25, 2011

What Defines Success in Your Life?

My wife Becky and I have this time-honored tradition of sharing YouTube music videos on each other's Facebook wall most Fridays.  The song is generally a variation of The Cure's It's Friday I'm In Love, a great song celebrating your loved one on Fridays.  We've sent each other the original, plus variations of the song ranging from bluegrass, country, folk, and all points in between.

Today, being the comedian that I am, I posted the song Friday by Rebecca Black.  Ms. Black is probably a talented young lady, but her song Friday is pretty rough on the ears.  It somehow went viral a couple of weeks ago, and the video on YouTube currently has over 47 million views. That puts this video in the top 200 most-watched videos of all time on YouTube (in just 6 weeks mind you)!  If you must, you can watch the video by clicking here.

That's quite an accomplishment, right?  To go from relative obscurity to an overnight internet sensation?  To be in the top 200 videos viewed of all time?  The original video to Friday I'm in Love from The Cure only has 6.9 million views after almost 3 full years.

When I'm browsing videos on YouTube (because obviously, I like to maintain a tight leash on my time), there are several things I look for.  I like to check out videos with higher view counts, meaning it's probably of good quality and interest to people.  The official Friday video has been viewed 47,000,000 times - probably a hit, right?

But another thing I think about, as I am qualifying videos, is the votes from the listening public.  Each listener is able to vote and give a video a thumbs up (like) or thumbs down (dislike). For example, the  the Cure's It's Friday I'm In Love has a 65 to 1 ratio of likes vs. dislikes.

And here's what might sting a bit for Rebecca - her "hit" video has a 8 to 1 dislike vs. like ratio. That's a ratio I've not witnessed before, especially on such a grand scale.  Basically, a ton of people are watching her video, and the majority of people voting do not like it.

What's my point, you say?  Well, in your daily life there are plenty of things you can do to make yourself look great.  But when push comes to shove, is there a real value to what you've done?  What are you doing that impacts other people?  What are you doing, or creating, that will have a lasting impact?

II Corinthians 5:9-10 helps us define our lasting success.  The passage reads - "So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him.  For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body."

My questions for you are these: What in your life are you using to define success?  Is it a standard that just doesn't ring true?  Is it the number of Facebook friends you have?  Is it the lifestyle you are living? Are you searching for validation from people?

True success in this life involves what we are accomplishing for His Kingdom, not ours.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Is Laughter Really the Best Medicine?

My wife and I really enjoy watching America's Funniest Home Videos.  Currently hosted by Tom Bergeron, AFV is now in it's 21st season and keeps getting better with each passing year.  What a great concept for a television show! The viewers provide 90% of the content, while the writers fill in the cracks with funny quips.  My favorite categories are (with videos illustrating each category) -

  1. Animals going crazy
  2. People scaring others
  3. Groin shots

Much of what I enjoy about this show is being able to laugh with (ok sometimes at) other people's misadventures.  While we never see the aftermath of what happens once the camera stops rolling, I just assume that the people and pets are not permanently damaged or scarred.

Medical studies show that the benefits of laughter include lowering blood pressure, exercising certain muscles (you can burn up to 50 calories an hour laughing, so crank up the reruns of Seinfeld), as well as ridding the body of unwanted toxins.  Plus it just makes you feel great, and it's absolutely contagious - there's nothing like laughing with others.  

I love to laugh - loud and long and clear.  There's just something very refreshing about it.  Proverbs 17:22a states ever so clearly - "A cheerful heart is good medicine."  Proverbs 31:25b shows the virtuous woman as one who "Laughs without fear of the future".  Job 8:21 tells us "He will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with shouting".  I firmly believe God is a God of humor when the time is appropriate.  How else can you account for Adam Sandler's extremely successful movie career?  Or what about the aye-aye, a lemur that's native to Madagascar, pictured below?

So what makes you laugh?  How many calories did you burn today through laughter? 

Friday, March 18, 2011

So You Think You Can Dance?

Photo courtesy of Nestor's Blurrylife via Flickr

While walking today, I pondered a plethora of thoughts.  First off, how hard would it be for me to become a b-boy?  (You can learn about b-boys by clicking here).  I mean, if I got in shape and trained really hard, could I pull it off?  Recently I watched one of the zaniest/most entertaining movies in quite some time.  It's called The LXD: The Uprising Begins (LXD stands for League of Extraordinary Dancers), and is currently available on Watch Instantly via Netflix.  It's all about dancing, with comic book-styled heroes and villains thrown in for good fun.  If you have ever watched So You Think You Can Dance (and I KNOW you have) and enjoyed it, I believe you will love this movie.

After much consideration, though, I determined that my b-boy days are far behind me.  My talents lie elsewhere.  Sadly, I know I can't dance. 

Right now my walk takes just about 45 minutes, and gives me plenty of time to just think. And as you can tell, my mind is full of things to think about.

What about you?  What do you think about when you exercise?  Do you listen to music, and if so, what type?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

How To Fireproof Your Day

"My dad was a firefighter while I was growing up."  That's a pretty cool statement to make.  And he has shared plenty of cool stories and pictures about his thrilling job.  I remember watching him at several fires, including a rather large fire one Saturday night.  I was coming home from my night shift at the local Burger King, and, from miles away, I could see the old Army/Navy store building being consumed by flames.  It was cool to watch Lt. Steven Bruce Crews in action.  Even though he's now retired from the department, he still talks about those days with great appreciation and sentimentality.  I think sometimes he misses the thrill of being called out to a fire.

Do you want to start each day off properly, prepared for what the world has to throw at you? Are you tired of constantly putting out fires in your life?  Are you being consumed by something as you read this blog?  Then here's what you need to do -


  • Stop - Psalm 46:10 starts with this simple sentence - "Be still, and know that I am God!"  Notice the exclamation point at the end of the sentence.  There's an extra amount of excitement there.  It's not an option. It's a command!  Start each day by stopping and spending some quiet time with Him.  The benefits are immeasurable.

  • Drop - Ephesians 6:18 commands the following - "Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere."   Again it's not a suggestion, it a direct order.  Drop to your knees, and spend time in prayer, not just selfishly for yourself, but especially for others.

  • Roll - OK - stay with me here.  You need to roll with Jesus all day long.  How different would your life be if Jesus was physically next to you every moment of every day?  Would you gossip about your coworker?  Would you flip the bird to a driver on the road?  Well He never leaves us.  II Corinthians 2:14 reminds us of this message -  But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ's triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. 

Stop, Drop, and Roll - not just good fire safety, but also great life safety.  Give it a try tomorrow.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Precious Memories - Scrabble with Grandma

Photo Courtesy of Stigeredoo

I remember as a child driving from Florida to Baltimore every summer to visit my grandparents and other family on my mom’s side.  It was a long and arduous trip, roughly 15 hours in the car, and in the same backseat as my younger sister.  And this was before the days of portable dvd players (ok actually before dvd’s), and there is only so much reading you can do to pass the time. 

There were several highlights of each vacation to Maryland – bubble gum-flavored snow cones, a trip to Hershey Park or Kings Dominion, and the exploration of Washington, D.C.  One of the more vivid memories, though, was playing Scrabble with Grandma Leah.  We’ve played this game with her for as long as I can remember.  Grandma is a crossword queen, and her vocabulary is immense.  Early on, it was no contest – she would win without even having to try.  My sister was better than I, so to keep from coming in last place, I would try to invent words.  Sometimes it worked, but most times I would get called out and would lose my turn.

As time went on, my sister, mom and even I began to win a game every now and then.  Add in my wife, who was an English major, and grandma now had some competition.  That didn’t matter though, because grandma could still win at will.

Unfortunately my godly grandma’s health has taken a turn for the worse.  After almost a century of living, this Kentucky-born mountain woman has just a short time left here on earth. And as much as she will be missed, this is a wonderful thing – it’s time for her to upgrade to a brand new heavenly body.  She’s ready to leave this planet permanently and spend eternity with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 As 2 Corinthians 5:8 says, “Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.”

Grandma’s remaining time on Earth is precious to us, and her passing will of course be bittersweet.  But how glorious it is to know that, because of Jesus, we will only be separated for a short while until we see her again.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Are you looking for the Answer? The Cure? He's looking for you.

I found this a while back, and really enjoy it.  Give it a chance and let me know what you think.

His name is Jesus....

Friday, March 4, 2011

Are You Making The Most Of Today?

Happy Friday friends!  I want to encourage you to make the most of today.  It is the only Friday, March 4, 2011 that we will ever get the chance to experience.  So live it to the fullest.

What great plans do you have for today?  What dreams are you putting into action?  What is a common idea or practice that you are ready to challenge whether it's even correct or not?  What's something new that you are learning today?

"A mind stretched by a new idea never returns to its original shape" - Oliver Wendell Holmes.  Go get stretched.

photo courtesy of chuck "caveman"coker via flickr

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Are you an irrelevant dinosaur?

I was recently reflecting on aging dinosaurs, which is weird because I’ve never been a dinosaur lover at all.  But I wasn’t thinking about a large Tyrannosaurus Rex or the super scary Oviraptors.  Unfortunately they have already aged out of our planet earth (although the movie Jurassic Park taught me that they could still be hanging around somewhere).

The dinosaurs I was thinking about were items or organizations that have lost their relevancy.   Think about the last time you used a payphone – what decade was that?  Could you even find a payphone right now if you had too?  When’s the last time you walked in to a florist to order flowers to send to someone out of town? Our church purchased an old Moose Lodge as our meeting place because they were unable to pay their bills due to declining membership and a lack of interest.

Why is Blockbuster struggling?  Because they felt it was ok to charge almost $5 for a new release, where other stores charged much less.  They also were soundly defeated by two new ways of renting movies to consumers – via the mail through Netflix, or via kiosk-utilizing Redbox.  It has since copied both ideas, but it appears to be too little too late.

My point is this: We constantly must be evaluating our relevancy to our time and place in history.  There was a reason why Jesus spoke about farming and fishing as much as He did while teaching – it’s what His audience understood.  If He had spoken about space travel, He would have lost His audience due to their lack of knowledge and interest in such adventures.

This why we as believers must get creative in understanding and sharing Jesus with those who need to meet Him.  With all of the technological advances, people are constantly bombarded with new ways of understanding and learning.  Our message must be truth, and it must be relevant in order to reach today's citizens of earth. Our culture has changed – people aren’t going to church because it’s the right thing to do like in days gone by.  We’ve got to engage them where they are – if we wait for them to enter our building, we might not get a chance to engage them.

My fear is that some organizations might be too large or unwilling to adapt.  In 50 years, people could be laughing at us for listening to CD's, or driving our own cars, or shopping at Wal-Mart.  Ask JC Penneys or Pontiac how that feels.